A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions is an updated version of the very first game in the Mario & Luigi series of role-playing games (RPGs), originally released for Game Boy Advance. Nintendo's iconic brothers demonstrate teamwork and a willingness to cooperate with rather than fight their enemies -- even longtime nemesis Bowser -- as they work to restore Princess Peach's stolen voice. When they encounter more aggressive enemies, they enter turn-based combat that involves stomping and smashing cartoonish creatures with large hammers, causing them to disappear in a flash of light. Combat requires some skill and practice to master, but an easy mode lets younger and inexperienced players jump in without too much trouble.
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What's it about?
A remake of the first game in Nintendo's popular RPG series, MARIO & LUIGI: SUPERSTAR SAGA + BOWSER'S MINIONS tells the story of how Cackletta and her evil assistant Fawful steal Princess Peach's voice, forcing Mario and his brother Luigi to embark on a quest to retrieve it. Miffed at the idea of not being the one causing mischief, the duo's longtime enemy, Bowser, helps them out at certain points along their journey. Players spend much of the game exploring the world, talking to non-player characters, solving simple puzzles, and overcoming obstacles with a growing selection of special Bros. techniques -- such as jumping on each other's shoulders to reach higher areas, or spinning like a helicopter across gaps. The rest of the game is spent in turn-based battles, which see the brothers working to properly time jumps, swings of their hammers, and special abilities to cause maximum damage to foes while also trying to avoid or deflect their attacks. This new edition delivers simple but noticeable upgrades to graphics, as well as a lengthy bonus story mode called Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser in which players take control of Captain Goomba and an expanding roster of minions who set off to rescue their boss.
Is it any good?
Good games tend to stand the test of time, and this one is no different. With only minor graphical enhancements, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions isn't the prettiest game on Nintendo 3DS, but its action remains absolutely compelling. Longtime fans of the series might find some of the brothers' techniques a bit simple -- both visually and mechanically -- compared to what they've gotten up to in more recent games like Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, but both exploration and combat remain undeniably satisfying. And Fawful's bizarrely worded monologues remind us why he's one of the most laugh-out-loud funny characters ever to appear in any Mario game. The classic RPG elements -- including upgradeable gear and slowly growing attributes that increase the brothers' power and luck -- are just the sugar on top, sure to satiate just about anyone with a hankering for traditional RPG systems.
This modern classic would be worth playing -- again or for the first time -- all on its own. What makes this edition even more alluring, however, is the addition of what is essentially a second game that takes place alongside the original story but puts players in control of Captain Goomba and a variety of Bowser's multitudinous minions, each with their own strength and weakness. It lacks the depth of the main campaign, but introduces a fresh strategic element that revolves around choosing the right minions for the job -- something you'll be able to do in advance by taking into account which enemies lie in wait. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions might not be quite as exciting as a brand-new entry in the series, but as remakes go, it's one worth getting a little twitterpated over.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender representation in the media. In this game, Mario and Luigi play the heroes who must once again assist a distressed Princess Peach, but how might Nintendo go about correcting these gender stereotypes in future games?
Talk about teamwork. Though Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions is a single-player game, it still demonstrates how some tasks are better accomplished with two people rather than one. What have you done with someone else that you couldn't have done alone?
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